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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Grandma Betty's Twelve Hour Rolls

I remember my mother making these rolls often when I was a teenager, not just for Thanksgiving. The recipe is a good one for a busy cooking day since the dough can be mixed and set aside for a long time. If the cook can restrain herself and use only the called for amount of flour, the rolls will be amazingly light and buttery.

There are some rather old fashioned methods in this recipe, but I'm not going to change them. Twelve Hour Rolls are perfect as they are.


Grandma Betty's Twelve Hour Rolls

(In spite of the title, the timing of these rolls is rather flexible.)

1/2 c warm water
1 pkg or 2 1/4 teas active dry yeast or instant
1 T sugar
1 c milk
1/2 c butter
3 eggs
1/2 c sugar
3/4 teas salt
4 c all purpose flour (no more)
more butter, melted, for brushing the tops of the rolls.

Mix together the water, yeast, and 1 T sugar. Allow to it sit out for 10-15 minutes until bubbly.

Scald the milk (place in a small saucepan over medium high heat and nearly bring it to a boil, stirring occasionally--you'll see tiny bubbles around the edges of the milk). Place the butter in the hot milk and let it melt. Pour the milk and butter into a medium bowl and allow to cool to lukewarm and add the yeast mixture. In a small bowl, beat the eggs and stir in the 1/2 c sugar. Add this mixture to the milk mixture. Add the salt and flour and stir well. The dough will be very sticky. Do not add more flour for it will make your rolls tougher and drier.

This is the sticky dough after it has risen 5-6 hours.

Butter a very large bowl. Place the dough in this bowl for the rise. Cover and leave out overnight, if convenient, or let stand for 5 hours. Do not refrigerate.

Stirring the dough down before rolling.

Stir the dough with a wooden spoon or spatula. Turn out half of the dough on a very well floured board (or pastry cloth--my preference). Roll into a 14- to 15-inch circle, quite thinly (about 3/8" thick). Brush with melted butter and cut circle into 16 wedges.

Roll lightly starting at the wide end. Place the rolls on an oiled sheet pan with the sharp tip under the roll against the pan. Brush the tops with melted butter.

Allow the rolls to rise for 3 1/2 to 4 hours or so (this rise can depend on the heat and the weather, so keep an eye on them). Don't let them rise for too long or they will lose volume and deflate. (I've never had them completely collapse but they can flatten if left to rise too long.)

Thanks to Sam Peterson for photos.

Bake at 375F for 8-12 minutes being careful not to let them over-brown.


Instant yeast usually doesn't need to be mixed with water beforehand to bloom. However, I've never tried this recipe without blooming my yeast. Therefore, I can't say how it will turn out if you add dry yeast to the dry ingredients. 

These rolls are almost pastry like and need a very light hand. This is why I like a pastry cloth and pastry stocking. The dough may stick a tiny bit on the floured cloth, but not usually.

These rolls are exceptionally good when they are hot out of the oven. I don't bake them ahead but instead throughout the Thanksgiving meal. It does mean a lot of ups and downs for me, but it seems a small sacrifice. Others may choose to bake the rolls ahead. I suggest you cook them the day you are going to eat them because they are very perishable. Even a day makes a huge difference in their quality. If you decide to make them beforehand, wrap tightly and freeze, thawing just before the holiday meal.

Having written this, I realize it may take some timing manipulation to get them to the table hot. I do such things as place them in a warm room if they are rising slowly or in a cool spot (even the garage) if they are nearly ready to bake, but I'm not ready to bake them.  You may rightly say its not worth the bother, but make sure you get a cook's snack and eat one when it is just out of the oven.

My mom also used this recipe to make Parker House rolls, by cutting in circles and folding them, not quite in half. I've not done that except in her kitchen. 

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